Namibia: Geology, Mineral Occurrences and Potential

Namibia offers considerable potential for new mineral discoveries; base and other metals, precious metals, diamonds and a variety of industrial minerals and materials.

No chromium (chromite) has yet been produced but there are indications in the Kunene Complex and Damaran gabbroic intrusions.

In a similar manner there are numerous indications of cobalt-nickel including the Alberta Complex (Windhoek District), the gossans of Kanigams northeast of Rehoboth, the Tantalite Valley in the extreme southeastern part of Namibia, and the Kunene Complex. Low but anomalous values in the Damara serpentinites probably do not indicate the potential for economic concentrations.

Copper is by far the most abundant base metal in Namibia. There are three working mines and numerous prospects and old mines that worked high grade but limited tonnage reserves. Examples of the latter are the Copper valley area (metamorphics of the Huab complex), the old Ubib Mine of the Karibib District (amphibolites and quartzites of the Abbabis Metamorphic Complex lying between Karibib and Swakopmund) and the old Ida Mine, also in the Swakopmund area. The old Oamites Mine south of Windhoek was reopened in 1977 but ran out of economic reserves in 1984. The Kunene Complex is an important base metal and precious metal exploration target which extends northwards into Angola. The Haib prospect developed within the Orange River Group metamorphics is probably the best known undeveloped property and contains about 2,000 million tons of possible ore. Other prospective areas include the Kobos copper mine area southwest of Rehoboth and the Rehoboth District itself (Swartmodder deposit etc.) The volcanoclastic and intrusive sequences of the Sinclair Sequence formed along the northwestern edge of the Kalhari Craton (the so-called Rehoboth Magmatic Arc) forms a major target area which extends northeast into Botswana. The Klein Aub Mine is situated at the southwestern extension of this belt. This deposit, mined at the rate of 200,000 to 300,000 tons/day in the 1970's and 1980,s contained close to 8 million tons of ore grading 2 per cent copper and one to two ounces of silver per ton. The mine was closed in 1987. The Tsumeb Mine (ore body) is a polymetallic complex of copper, lead, zinc, silver, antimony, arsenic, cadmium and other minor metals. Located in the Otavi Mountainland, Tsumeb is one of the classic mineral deposits of Africa. During the period 1970 through to the early 1990's, the mine increased its production from 500,000 to about 600,000 tons/year. Peak production of one million tons was achieved in 1962. Ore grade dropped from 4% to about 3% copper and lead has dropped dramatically from about 13% to 2%. Reserves are basically exhausted. The nearby Tschudi deposit contains between 50 and 60 million tons of low grade ore (0.7% Cu). The Kombat Mine, 50 km from Tsumeb is still an active producer of copper, lead and silver. Production of 300,000 to 400,000 tons/year averages about 3.0% Cu. The Asi Ost mine near to Kombat has been mined on and off depending on base metal prices. Reasonable reserves still exist at both Kombat and Asis Ost. The Gorob-Hope area contains the intermittently worked mines of Gorob and Matchless. The latter in the Windhoek District was the first copper deposit to be mined on a large scale in Namibia (1840's). The Otjihase Mine in the same District has been producing at the rate of over 600,000 tons/year with a grade of 3% Cu. The numerous copper showings in a variety of favorable geological settings, as well as the existance of old and present mines, indicate that with continued active exploration exhausted or uneconomic copper reserves can be replaced.

Iron ore is associated with a variety of geological terranes, including the Kunene Complex. Mining has only occurred at Kalkfeld in limited quantities (20,000 tons/year) for the purpose copper fluxing at Tsumeb copper operations. Production was stopped in 1970. Major low grade reserves occur at Ongaba (130 million tons of 37% Fe). Reserves of more limited tonnage but with similar grades are found at Ongaba and Owihende, near to Ongaba.

Namibia is a major African producer of lead and zinc. Most of the lead-zinc deposits, as well as all major producing mines are located within the Damara rocks which underlie most of the country: mixed sediments with major carbonate horizons and volcanics and sub-volcanics. The carbonates of the Northern Platform alone host 600 base-metal occurrences within the Otavi Mountainland. Mississippi-type mineralization occurs at Tsumeb, Kombat, Berg Aukas and Abenab West. The Namib lead mine is hosted by Karibib white marbles and the Rosh Pinah deposit by mixed metasediments. The Namib Lead Mine (Deblin Mine) at the foot of Rossing mountain has been operating since 1965 and was producing about 2,000 tons leads concentrate and 5,000 tons zinc concentrate (50% respectively) annually. It was put on care and maintainance in 1992. The Rosh Pinah Mine is situated 20 km north of the Orange River and has been operating for 21 years and producing 60,000 to 70,000 tons of zinc concentrate (51%-58%) and about 20,000 tons lead concentrate (42%-48%) yearly. Extensive reserves still exist. Present ore production is 500,000 tons/year averaging 7% zinc and 2% lead with minor copper and silver. Numerous lead-zinc prospects and old mines such as Hohewarte in the Windhoek District and the Ai-Ais Lead Mine in the Karasburg District. Prospects are reasonably good to discover and develop further economic ore.

Namibia has never been a traditional gold producer-a combination of deposit recognition, grades, costs and price. Until the opening of the Navachab Mine (Karibib District) in 1989 annual recorded production was only about 200kg/year. Present country production is closer to 2,000kg (two tons)/year. The Navachab Mine, produces close to two tons gold/year from 2.5 - 2.8 gram/ton ore recovered by typical bulk tonnage C.I.P processes. The possibility of discovering similar bulk tonnage deposits in Namibia is reasonably good.

Silver is associated with the polymetallic mines such as Tsumeb, Kombat and Ros Pinah. Total country biproduct production is of the order of 100 tons/year (90,000 to 100,000 kilos). Geology is not favorable for stand alone silver deposits.

Namibia is renowned for the quantity and quality of its gem DIAMONDS which are produced from alluvial (marine) terrace gravels along the Atlantic coast and the Orange River. The main deposits are Pleistocene or younger. The history of the discovery and development of the Namibian diamond fields is generally well known. Total annual country production has been stabilized at between 1 million and 2 million carats for the last 30 years. Unlike in neighboring countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Zaire. productive kimberlites have not been located in Namibia. Total value of diamond sales has been of the order of US$300 million/year: approaching 40% of total mineral export sales.

The famous Rossing URANIUM deposits account for some 10% of total world supply and have been a close second to diamonds in contributing to the economy of Namibia. Annual value of uranium production is estimated at US$250 million in contrast to the US$300 million attributed annually to diamond sales and US$100-US$150 million in copper. Similar to diamonds new investment opportunities would be limited in the uranium area because of historical reasons and land ownership positions.

In addition to the traditional minerals of copper, lead-zinc-silver, diamonds and uranium, Namibia is a producer of semiprecious stones, particularly amazonite, beryl (aquamarine), garnet, sodalite and different varieties of quartz, topaz and tourmaline.

Coal reserves in Karoo sediments are estimated to be in the region of 500 million tons. Whereas there have been very detailed investigations and estimates have been made regarding internal market requirements etc., coal production has been deemed uneconomic. Coal occurs in the following areas; Kaokoland, Omwambo, Kavango and Caprivi, the Huab Basin (western Damaraland), the Waterberg Basin and the Aranod Basin. Considerable amounts of technical data exists on most of these areas. A variety of industrial minerals, rocks and materials are also available such as fluorite (annual production 30,000 tons), a major new graphite deposit, gypsum, phosphate (guano; 3,000 tons/year) arid rare earth elements.

With its varied geology and resources, proven production record and stability, continued and increased exploratrion investment is expected to flow into Namibia to maintain its important minerals industry.

Namibia offers considerable potential for new mineral discoveries; base and other metals, precious metals, diamonds and a variety of industrial minerals and materials.

No chromium (chromite) has yet been produced but there are indications in the Kunene Complex and Damaran gabbroic intrusions.

In a similar manner there are numerous indications of cobalt-nickel including the Alberta Complex (Windhoek District), the gossans of Kanigams northeast of Rehoboth, the Tantalite Valley in the extreme southeastern part of Namibia, and the Kunene Complex. Low but anomalous values in the Damara serpentinites probably do not indicate the potential for economic concentrations.

Copper is by far the most abundant base metal in Namibia. There are three working mines and numerous prospects and old mines that worked high grade but limited tonnage reserves. Examples of the latter are the Copper valley area (metamorphics of the Huab complex), the old Ubib Mine of the Karibib District (amphibolites and quartzites of the Abbabis Metamorphic Complex lying between Karibib and Swakopmund) and the old Ida Mine, also in the Swakopmund area. The old Oamites Mine south of Windhoek was reopened in 1977 but ran out of economic reserves in 1984. The Kunene Complex is an important base metal and precious metal exploration target which extends northwards into Angola. The Haib prospect developed within the Orange River Group metamorphics is probably the best known undeveloped property and contains about 2,000 million tons of possible ore. Other prospective areas include the Kobos copper mine area southwest of Rehoboth and the Rehoboth District itself (Swartmodder deposit etc.) The volcanoclastic and intrusive sequences of the Sinclair Sequence formed along the northwestern edge of the Kalhari Craton (the so-called Rehoboth Magmatic Arc) forms a major target area which extends northeast into Botswana. The Klein Aub Mine is situated at the southwestern extension of this belt. This deposit, mined at the rate of 200,000 to 300,000 tons/day in the 1970's and 1980,s contained close to 8 million tons of ore grading 2 per cent copper and one to two ounces of silver per ton. The mine was closed in 1987. The Tsumeb Mine (ore body) is a polymetallic complex of copper, lead, zinc, silver, antimony, arsenic, cadmium and other minor metals. Located in the Otavi Mountainland, Tsumeb is one of the classic mineral deposits of Africa. During the period 1970 through to the early 1990's, the mine increased its production from 500,000 to about 600,000 tons/year. Peak production of one million tons was achieved in 1962. Ore grade dropped from 4% to about 3% copper and lead has dropped dramatically from about 13% to 2%. Reserves are basically exhausted. The nearby Tschudi deposit contains between 50 and 60 million tons of low grade ore (0.7% Cu). The Kombat Mine, 50 km from Tsumeb is still an active producer of copper, lead and silver. Production of 300,000 to 400,000 tons/year averages about 3.0% Cu. The Asi Ost mine near to Kombat has been mined on and off depending on base metal prices. Reasonable reserves still exist at both Kombat and Asis Ost. The Gorob-Hope area contains the intermittently worked mines of Gorob and Matchless. The latter in the Windhoek District was the first copper deposit to be mined on a large scale in Namibia (1840's). The Otjihase Mine in the same District has been producing at the rate of over 600,000 tons/year with a grade of 3% Cu. The numerous copper showings in a variety of favorable geological settings, as well as the existance of old and present mines, indicate that with continued active exploration exhausted or uneconomic copper reserves can be replaced.

Iron ore is associated with a variety of geological terranes, including the Kunene Complex. Mining has only occurred at Kalkfeld in limited quantities (20,000 tons/year) for the purpose copper fluxing at Tsumeb copper operations. Production was stopped in 1970. Major low grade reserves occur at Ongaba (130 million tons of 37% Fe). Reserves of more limited tonnage but with similar grades are found at Ongaba and Owihende, near to Ongaba.

Namibia is a major African producer of lead and zinc. Most of the lead-zinc deposits, as well as all major producing mines are located within the Damara rocks which underlie most of the country: mixed sediments with major carbonate horizons and volcanics and sub-volcanics. The carbonates of the Northern Platform alone host 600 base-metal occurrences within the Otavi Mountainland. Mississippi-type mineralization occurs at Tsumeb, Kombat, Berg Aukas and Abenab West. The Namib lead mine is hosted by Karibib white marbles and the Rosh Pinah deposit by mixed metasediments. The Namib Lead Mine (Deblin Mine) at the foot of Rossing mountain has been operating since 1965 and was producing about 2,000 tons leads concentrate and 5,000 tons zinc concentrate (50% respectively) annually. It was put on care and maintainance in 1992. The Rosh Pinah Mine is situated 20 km north of the Orange River and has been operating for 21 years and producing 60,000 to 70,000 tons of zinc concentrate (51%-58%) and about 20,000 tons lead concentrate (42%-48%) yearly. Extensive reserves still exist. Present ore production is 500,000 tons/year averaging 7% zinc and 2% lead with minor copper and silver. Numerous lead-zinc prospects and old mines such as Hohewarte in the Windhoek District and the Ai-Ais Lead Mine in the Karasburg District. Prospects are reasonably good to discover and develop further economic ore.

Namibia has never been a traditional gold producer - a combination of deposit recognition, grades, costs and price. Until the opening of the Navachab Mine (Karibib District) in 1989 annual recorded production was only about 200kg/year. Present country production is closer to 2,000kg (two tons)/year. The Navachab Mine, produces close to two tons gold/year from 2.5 - 2.8 gram/ton ore recovered by typical bulk tonnage C.I.P processes. The possibility of discovering similar bulk tonnage deposits in Namibia is reasonably good.

Silver is associated with the polymetallic mines such as Tsumeb, Kombat and Ros Pinah. Total country biproduct production is of the order of 100 tons/year (90,000 to 100,000 kilos). Geology is not favorable for stand alone silver deposits.

Namibia is renowned for the quantity and quality of its gem DIAMONDS which are produced from alluvial (marine) terrace gravels along the Atlantic coast and the Orange River. The main deposits are Pleistocene or younger. The history of the discovery and development of the Namibian diamond fields is generally well known. Total annual country production has been stabilized at between 1 million and 2 million carats for the last 30 years. Unlike in neighboring countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Zaire. productive kimberlites have not been located in Namibia. Total value of diamond sales has been of the order of US$300 million/year: approaching 40% of total mineral export sales.

In addition to the traditional base-metal and diamond production of the country, the famous Rossing URANIUM deposits account for some 10% of total world supply and have been a close second to diamonds in contributing to the economy of Namibia. Annual value of uranium production is estimated at US$250 million in contrast to the US$300 million attributed annually to diamond sales and US$100 - US$150 million in copper. Similar to diamonds new investment opportunities would be limited in the uranium area because of historical reasons and land ownership positions.